Accurides Capital Investments Timed to Truck Market Peak

Wheel manufacturer to add capacity, capability with $75-million program

Accuride Corp. has a $75-million capital-spending plan for 2012, and aims to increase production capacity and manufacturing processes for the Accuride Wheels business, according to the group’s president and CEO. Accuride Wheels manufactures forged steel and aluminum wheels for trucks and wheel-end components at eight plants in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, and recently outlined how $35 million of investments during 2011 had increased its aluminum wheel production capacity.

“Accuride is committed to being a reliable and dependable supplier of steel and aluminum wheels and wheel-end components for our OE and aftermarket customers,” president and CEO Rick Dauch stated in an address to the conference of the aftermarket truck industry. “We made solid progress in boosting our production capacity last year, and are stepping up our investments to extend and accelerate that progress throughout 2012.”

The first element of the 2012 investment program involves new machining lines for the Accuride Wheels business. The group has $20 million marked to expand production capacity for aluminum wheels, including plant improvements, installing new machining lines and equipment, relocating equipment among its three aluminum wheel plants in Erie, Pa., Camden, S.C., and Monterrey, Mexico.

It said these moves will optimize material flow, standardize machining processes, and improves surface-finish consistency across its product lines. Accuride further indicated the investments will double aluminum wheel production capacity at Camden and Monterrey. The company predicted the commercial vehicle industry would hit the peak of its demand cycle in 2013-14.

As for its steel wheel product line, Accuride said it will make “targeted investments” in machining, equipment and plant upgrades, along with “engineering initiatives” to improve product and process quality. It also said its Lean Manufacturing initiatives are reducing variation and cycle times for these products.

The second phase of 2012 investments will focus on Accuride’s Gunite unit, which produces commercial vehicle wheel-end components, like brake drums, disc brake rotors, spoke wheels, disc wheel hubs, and other products. Details of the program will be announced later this quarter, the company said, but it indicated it plans to address production issues and capacity restraints and will increase capacity, throughput, and product quality.

”These investment plans further demonstrate our continuing commitment to improve product quality and ensure availability to meet growing demand by our customers and the industry,” Dauch continued. “We won’t be satisfied until Accuride becomes the premier supplier of wheel-end system solutions to the global commercial vehicle industry.”

Accuride Corp. also includes the Imperial Group, a fabricator, and the Brillon Iron Works, a gray and ductile iron foundry in Brillon, Wis.

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